Nick Veasey likes to challenge our obsessions with superficial appearances by using x-rays to strip back the layers and show what it is really like under the surface. In his words ‘I like to challenge the automatic way that we react to just physical appearance by highlighting the, often surprising, inner beauty.’ Veasey delves inside objects to discover what things are really made of. Metaphors for the images are many and varied with context being very relevant in society today with the prevalence of surveillance and the use of x-ray technology for security. ‘To create art with equipment and technology designed to help big brother delve deeper, to use some of that fancy complicated gadgetry that helps remove the freedom and individuality in our lives, to use that apparatus to create beauty beings a smile to my face’.
Veasey’s work with radiographic imaging equipment takes the x-ray to another level. Using lethal radiation he produces works of great lyricism and grace penetrating solid matter to render it ghostly and gentle. Everyday objects, from shoes and handbags to humans and Land Rovers, are transformed from the banal to the beguiling and the layers and make-up of natural items are shown in fantastic detail. Veasey has built a bespoke concrete structure which contains the radiation. Inside are several different x-ray machines and a film processor. Subjects to be x-rayed are placed on the floor or wall and film is placed under or behind the subject. The x-rays pass through the subject and make an image on the film. The image is exactly the same size as the object and if the object is too large to fit on one film several are used. This film is processed and then scanned on a high-resolution scanner to obtain optimum detail and sharpness. Large and complex objects can take months to complete. Veasey uncovers the invisible, penetrating the surface, taking us on a journey into a world otherwise hidden and unseen. The inner life of objects are revealed, the surface replaced with transparency, the inside becoming the outside and the inner beauty of objects revealed. Creating art with radiation is complex and dangerous but the results continually inspire Veasey to keep experimenting, his works becoming larger and more impressive. He is one of the few artists to master the delicate union of science and art.
The results transcend classification as photographs, having the gravitas to motivate both science institutions and art galleries to acquire his artworks. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London have recently added his work to the British National Collection of Photography. In 2017-2018 he had a retrospective exhibition at the world’s largest photography museum, Fotografiska, in Stockholm and his work is included in many important collections and museums around the world.
‘Most artists claim to delve beneath the surface of their subjects but few have got to the core of our being in quite the way that Nick Veasey has managed.’ — The Telegraph
An artist that pushes the boundaries in pursuit of his calling.